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Election 2014
5:53 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Gay Rights Group To Help Some Republican Candidates

An advocacy group supporting gay and lesbian causes in Illinois is bolstering the campaign funds of two Republican lawmakers.
 
Equality Illinois' political action committee says it plans to put $150,000 into the campaigns of candidates that support same-sex marriage before Tuesday's primary.
 
That includes state Reps. Ron Sandack of Downers Grove and Ed Sullivan of Mundelein _ two of three GOP members of the House to vote to legalize same-sex marriage last fall. The third, state Rep. Tom Cross, is making a bid for state treasurer.
 

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Regional
5:36 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Kincaid Mayor Arrested Again

The small Christian County town of Kincaid has been in the news for the wrong reasons. 

The village's police chief is accused of having village employees work on his house on government time. 

And the mayor, Doug Thomas, has been arrested for a second time for violating an order of protection.  Thomas was taken into custody at the village hall Thursday morning. Thomas was taken to the Christian County jail.

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Treasurer's race
5:22 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Republican Opponents For Treasurer Differ On Budget Strategy

DuPage County Auditor Bob Grogan and Rep. Tom Cross (R-Oswego) face off in the Republican primary for State Treasurer.

  When state treasurer Dan Rutherford announced a run for governor, the Republican left his seat wide open. Two GOP candidates are vying for that party’s nomination on Tuesday.

Former House minority leader Tom Cross (R-Oswego) left his position in the fall to run for treasurer. He's promising to use a new tool to force a balanced budget: The threat of suing the General Assembly and the governor.

Cross says having that card in his back pocket will make sure the state doesn’t spend more than it takes in, like the state's constitution mandates.

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Election 2014
11:08 am
Thu March 13, 2014

13th Dist. Congressional Candidate Ann Callis Interview

Ann Callis
Credit Callis for Illinois

In May of last year, Ann Callis abruptly stepped down as Madison County’s chief circuit judge in May of last year, after serving 18 years on the bench.  The Democrat says it's time to use her experience to help people in new ways - in Illinois' 13th Congressional District.

The Democrat said it was time to 'use her experience to help people in new ways' when stepping down last year.

She entered what became a crowded field for the office, facing two other Democrats, and three Republicans, including incumbent Rodney Davis.

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Statehouse
9:47 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Ballot Measure Calls To Ban Fracking In Southern Illinois

Opponents of fracking rally in the Capitol last spring.
Credit Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

  A ballot measure before voters in far-southern Johnson County seeks to ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. But some advocates worry the proposal’s wording has the potential to confuse voters.

As it’s stated on the ballot, voters can vote yes or no in response to the following question:

“Shall the people’s right to local self-government be asserted by Johnson County to ban corporate fracking as a violation of their rights to health, safety, and a clean environment?”

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Statehouse
6:00 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Reducing The Number Of State Laws Not So Simple

Credit dnr.illinois.gov

The name “lawmaker” implies someone who helps pass laws.  But some who serve in the role are critical of that part of the job description.  Lee Strubinger looks at why they say there are too many laws on the books. 

Every year when the Illinois General Assembly goes in to session, a regular drumbeat of new proposals are debated.  They deal with topics from crime, to regulation and even seemingly innocuous measures to honor someone or something.    

More than 600 new laws were signed in the last year alone.

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Arts
5:23 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Classical Guitar Takes The Stage At Millikin

Credit Mid America Guitar Ensemble Festival

This weekend, Decatur will play host to some pretty serious guitarists.  It's the annual Mid America Classical Guitar Ensemble and it will be held at Millikin University.  It's mainly for those who study classical guitar at a college level.

While those students will have a chance to learn, they can also perform.  And there are opportunities for the public to hear some tremendous musicians.

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Regional
3:24 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

City Aldermen Stall Deal With Napa Auto Parts, Question Contract

Credit springfield.il.us

Several Springfield aldermen are questioning the Mayor's  plan to utilize an auto parts company for the city's vehicle fleet.

Under the proposal, Napa Auto Parts would be the city's primary auto parts supplier. 

The more than three million dollar agreement with Napa would last for three years and would operate in a city maintenance garage.  It's part of an effort that would reduce the number of city garages.       

During Tuesday night's committee of the whole meeting, a few aldermen wanted to know how the city came to choose Napa, rather than local vendors.

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Sports
12:23 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

A Chat With UIS Athletic Director Kim Pate

Kim Pate
Credit UIS Athletics

The University of Illinois Springfield has come a long way with athletics in the past decade.  Now a Division II school, UIS has added 6 programs in that time.   That brings the total of teams to 11. 

Yet, the expansion has also brought criticism from those who question if sports are part of the school's mission.

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Local Artists
11:58 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Artist Adam Perschbacher Has "Disillusions"

Adam Perschbacher at WUIS
Rachel Otwell

Adam Perschbacher's artwork is edgy - quite literally. His geometric, 3D works range from black and white simplicity, to the jagged and colorful. The local artist's work is currently on display at the Madden Arts Center in Decatur and runs through March 29th. The solo-exhibition is called, "DISILLUSION: The Objects of Adam G.

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Statehouse
7:13 am
Wed March 12, 2014

GOP Candidates Face University of Illinois Admissions Question

The Republican contenders for governor are facing questions about their roles in a five-year-old admissions scandal at the University of Illinois.  

The scandal involved some politicians using clout to get students enrolled. State Treasurer Dan Rutherford and state Sen. Kirk Dillard have acknowledged their names are on the list the University of Illinois maintained of lawmakers who called to check on applications. They were asked about it at a televised debate last week.  

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Election 2014
6:30 am
Wed March 12, 2014

"The Limit Is Winning The Race"

The Republican candidates for governor: Sen. Bill Brady, Sen. Kirk Dillard, Bruce Rauner, Treasurer Dan Rutherford
Credit Brian Mackey/WUIS

  Illinois had long been the holdout: a state without any limits on campaign contributions. Prosecutors say former Governor Rod Blagojevich took full advantage of that freedom, as he solicited donations in exchange for favors and state jobs. His arrest spurred lawmakers into action.

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Harvest Desk
5:25 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Padlock The Milk! The FDA's Push To Safeguard The Food Supply

Milk is an extremely popular item on the University of Missouri campus, says purchasing coordinator Sandy Perley. "Our entire campus in a year drinks about 96,000 gallons of milk. And by our best calculation, that’s about 326 gallons a day."
Credit Abbie Fentress Swanson/Harvest Public Media

Many of the food terrorism scenarios outlined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration involve liquid.

And there’s good reason for that.

Liquids like orange juice and milk go through many processing steps -- farm, bottling plant, delivery – before reaching the consumers who drink them. And these liquids are moved, manufactured and stored in huge batches that get distributed and consumed quickly. Should a toxin be injected somewhere along the supply chain, experts believe it could have devastating human health and economic consequences.

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Regional
11:47 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

City Close To Downtown Property Purchase

Credit springfield.il.us

The City of Springfield is one step away from acquiring the now vacant YWCA building and surrounding property in the downtown.  Aldermen agreed to the deal during a Committee of the Whole meeting Tuesday night.   Purchasing the almost 2 acres across from the Governor's Mansion, will cost the city over one and a half million dollars.   The city will use Tax Increment Financing money to buy the land.

It's been a long process to get to this point.   Ward Six Alderman Cory Jobe says this is property that's been targeted since he got elected.

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Statehouse
3:40 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Court: Unplayed Blagojevich Tapes To Stay Sealed

An appellate court in Chicago says transcripts of FBI wiretaps
not played at Rod Blagojevich's corruption trials will remain sealed.
 
The 7th U.S. Court of Appeals is still mulling its decision on the imprisoned
former Illinois governor's request to toss his convictions.
 
Appellate courts typically unseal documents submitted as part of an appeal. But
prosecutors later asked that the transcripts submitted to the appeals court not
entered into evidence at the trials remain under seal. Blagojevich's attorneys
wanted them opened.  
 

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Education
2:36 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

School Officials Call Potential Cuts 'Devastating'

As the state legislature threatens additional cuts to local schools, education officials are firing back. Some say taking more money away from students would be morally reprehensible.

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Harvest Desk
12:45 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Could Our Food Supply Be A Target For Terrorism?

A bioterror attack that introduced a virus like foot-and-mouth disease could devastate the U.S. livestock industry. Regulators are proposing new rules meant to protect the food system from terror attack.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld/Harvest Public Media

It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster. Villains in trench coats scheme ways to cause the most destruction and chaos. They settle on a food company, an easy target, and plan to lace the products with a chemical or pathogen. The hero finds out the plan with enough time to save the day.

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Health Desk
11:57 am
Tue March 11, 2014

State Panel Approves Memorial-Passavant Affiliation

Passavant Area Hospital
Credit Passavant Hospital

The affiliation of two area health care organizations is a step closer to becoming a reality.  Passavant Area Hospital in Jacksonville plans to join Memorial Health System, which oversees three other hospitals including Memorial Medical Center in Springfield.

Tuesday, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board unanimously approved the change.   
Ed Curtis, Memorial's CEO, says the affiliation is on target to take effect April first.  Afterward, he says patients won't notice an immediate difference in how they access health care:

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Science
10:54 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Science Lecture Looks At Early Spanish Exploration Of Interior U.S.

Credit Ill. State Museum

This month's Illinois State Museum Science Lecture Series will focus on early Spanish exploration of what would become the United States.   Dr. Kathryn Sampeck is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Illinois State University.

She has been doing archaeological research in the southeast to get a better idea of those expeditions and how they changed history.    

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Student loans
9:41 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Lawmaker Wants European Model Of Student Loans

Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo)
Credit ilga.gov

  A plan that could lead to Illinois changing its student loan repayment programs is moving through the General Assembly. The new method would let students pay back loans based on their income, instead of a set schedule.

The model is a European one, often used in the U.K. and Australia, says sponsor Jack Franks (D-Marengo). Franks says he wants to prevent college grads from being shackled to large debt payments.

Currently, students have to begin making steady payment shortly after they graduate, whether or not they've found a job, and regardless of how much that job pays.

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Election 2014
8:43 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Interview With U.S. Senate Candidate Jim Oberweis

Jim Oberweis
Credit Oberweis for US Senate

Voters this month will decide the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate.  It's a race between two suburban businessmen, Doug Truax and Jim Oberweis.

The Oberweis name is recognizable for the Illinois based dairy business the candidate started and still owns along with an investment firm.

Oberweis,  67, is also known for his previous five failed campaigns.  That included unsuccessful attempts to run for U.S. Senate. He won a state Senate seat in 2012. 
 

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Gun Control
6:11 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

Majority Feel Less Safe Since Concealed Carry Law

As Illinois gun owners increasingly are allowed to carry their firearms as they go about their daily lives -- a new poll shows half of Illinois voters feel less safe. Qualifying gun-owners began receiving their licenses to carry loaded firearms earlier this month.

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Health Desk
1:38 pm
Mon March 10, 2014

State Health Panel Wants To See Expansion Of Health Jobs

LaMar Hasbrouck, IDPH Director
Credit WUIS

A state panel has released nearly two dozen recommendations to deal with the increase in patients expected under the Affordable Care Act.  However, some of those ideas will be hard to get approved.

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Term limits
9:34 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Rep. Rodney Davis Supports Term Limits; Won't Self-Impose

  Calls to institute term limits in Illinois have gained traction in the race for governor, helped along by a well-funded campaign that seeks to limit how long politicians can serve in the state legislature. A freshman Congressman says he supports the effort ... but only to a degree.

Congressman Rodney Davis (IL-13) says he has not yet signed the petition that calls for limiting members of the Illinois General Assembly to eight year terms. But he says that he would.

Davis, a Republican from Taylorville, says he also backs term limits for Congress, at least in concept.

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Statehouse
7:19 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Illinois Pays Penalty For Bad Fiscal Image

Professor Martin Luby
Credit igpa

When it comes to finances, the State of Illinois has a poor reputation.   New research shows how the state's negative perception is costing taxpayers. 

Illinois already has the worst credit rating among states.  And while that adds to the cost of borrowing money, Illinois winds up paying even more because investors view it as risky of default.

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Election 2014
6:00 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Why Are Republicans Avoiding Social Issues?

The four candidates for governor seem to be downplaying social issues in this year's Republican primary.
Credit WUIS

Illinois' economy has been topic A among the men seeking the Republican nomination for governor. Getting far less attention are social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. For a party whose rough primaries have often been compared to “circular firing squads,” the lack of focus on the topic is unusual. Brian Mackey looks at what’s behind the social silence.

State Sen. Kirk Dillard, from Hinsdale, can tell you exactly how close he came to winning the Republican gubernatorial primary four years ago.

MACKEY: “Was it 193 votes?”

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Harvest Desk
9:13 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Hog Virus Causing Pork Price Spike

Hog producer Phil Borgic of Nokomis, Ill., lost one full month of piglets to the PED virus.
Credit Peter Gray/WUIS

  Shoppers are already paying more for pork and bacon than they did last year and many economists expect those prices to continue climbing for the next few months.

Chris Hurt, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, watches the market for lean hog futures– the anticipated price of hogs heading to market soon. The futures price hit record-highs in early March, Hurt said, which will translate to expensive and bacon in the supermarket in the coming months.

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Statehouse
5:41 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Audit Of Quinn Program Sent To Authorities

A scathing audit of an anti-violence program launched by Gov. Pat Quinn in 2010 has been sent to law enforcement authorities.  

Republican lawmakers released a letter Friday from Auditor General William Holland. It indicated the audit of Quinn's $55 million ``Neighborhood Recovery Initiative'' went to James Lewis, U.S. attorney for the central district of Illinois, and Ricardo Meza, the state's executive inspector general. The legislators had asked Holland to forward his findings.  

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Higher Education
2:44 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

U of I Plans Presidential Search Panel

Robert Easter

The University of Illinois hopes to have a new president selected by January.  

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports a 19-member search committee will be appointed in May to recruit and review candidates to replace President Robert Easter.  

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State Week
1:37 pm
Fri March 7, 2014

Listen To State Week - March 7, 2014

This week, more discussion of the upcoming primary elections, gun rights activists press for fewer restrictions, and differences of opinion in the state legislature over next year's budget.

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